I am pleased to report that, after flailing and whining about how hard Overwatch’s update to its “Junkenstein’s Revenge” battle is, my friends and I have now mastered it and I have even scored myself Symmetra’s gorgeous new dragon costume. This year’s version of the battle now includes Symmetra as “The Summoner,” increasing the challenge of the four-person mission to defend a castle from Junkenstein and his minions. It also offers an additional version that lets players play as another four characters from the growing game roster. If you’re not playing Overwatch yet and have no idea what I’m talking about, check out our takes on the game to find out why you should fix this right away. Otherwise, settle in this week’s gaming news!
The Gaming Industry Adds Their Voices to #MeToo
In the wake of accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, many people are speaking up. The hashtag, #MeToo, originally started in 2007 by activist Tarana Burke and recently amplified by actress Alyssa Milano, reveals the magnitude of women who have suffered sexual harassment, assault, and violence. Key gaming industry players have stood up and added their voices and their support to the #MeToo campaign, and companies and associations like Daybreak, IDGA, and Devolver are vowing to help bring about the cultural change necessary to stop sexism, sexual violence, and harassment.
While this is hopefully a step in the right direction for the gaming industry, there is still a long way to go to clear out the existing mess. This includes recent issues with the gaming forum, NeoGAF, which has gone silent after accusations of sexual harassment were made against the owner.
Still a long way to go…
The Women of LEGO NASA
LEGO is introducing a new 231-piece set featuring astronauts Mae Jemison and Sally Ride, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, and astronomer Nancy Grace. These will be part of the regular LEGO collection, as opposed to the “Friends” series that is aimed at girls and includes figures that do not fit with the regular sets. In terms of eradicating gendered toys, LEGO Friends a big step backward for the toy company. That is, LEGO used to be all about gender-neutral creativity and simply allowing children to create as they saw fit, but the introduction of LEGO Friends in 2012 was all about reinforcing gender stereotypes and has inspired heavy criticism towards LEGO. The Women of NASA set is a step in the right direction when it comes to empowering girls and teaching boys to respect women. And it promotes STEM jobs.
The Gambling Gamer
Microtransactions are the name of the game, these days. It’s a not so sneaky way to get players to shut up and take my money. Whether it’s for DLC, a sweet looking outfit, advantages in gameplay, or extra time on the clock, gamers are coughing up their dollars to line game companies’ pockets. Blizzard reportedly earned $3.6 billion in microtransactions in 2016, which was more than half their revenue. Like Las Vegas, the game industry is tapping into the psychology of manipulation and addiction to convince gamers that they need more of their virtual product. In games like Overwatch, the randomized loot boxes that gamers can earn in-game or purchase feed the limbic system of our lizard brains. While mobile games offer transactions that will keep you paying and playing longer, Overwatch and similar games only offer cosmetic bonuses to ensure that your characters are pleasing to your eye. But Electronic Arts’ new installment of Star Wars Battlefront II will apparently offer bonuses that increase abilities, giving players significant advantages. Most often, such bonuses are available for free by playing the game enough to earn them, but for the gamer with some extra cash flow (or not), paying to win means they will be coming back for more. And more. And more…
Telltales Games, Funko, and Guardians of the Galaxy
The newest story in Telltale Games’ library is Guardians of the Galaxy. While the recent movies feature several concerning issues, TTG has once again successfully yanked and twisted all the heartstrings with this story about Peter Quill and his eclectic family of miscreants. I never expected to find myself crying over Rocket Raccoon’s experiences, but here we are. And now Funko is giving me a punch right in the gut by combining my obsession with my feels in this new series that launches in December.
- Former BioWare game developer Manveer Heir talks racism and other problems with Mass Effect Andromeda.
- Fragments of Euclid is a puzzle game set inside an MC Escher painting that will up the game for Portal fans.
- The New York Yankees are the latest sports team to venture into the world of esports.
- Dungeons & Dragons‘ revision of its African culture-based society falls flat.